Camping – The Move Day 10 – 12

There are many pass-times that the state of Colorado has to offer from seeing concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheater, to catching a game at one of the many sporting events, from skiing at one of the world renowned resorts, to hiking up one of the over fifty 14ers, but the one that I think symbolizes the fun that can be had in the state the most is camping. It is when I hang out in the mountains with my favorite friends and family that supplies me with the greatest memories of this part of the United States. There are so many great locations that it is hard to just pick one that embodies what it means to go camping. You can go to some of the national parks, such as Rocky Mountain or the Great Sand Dunes; you can find spots within the miles of national forrest, such as the Poudre River or Eleven Mile Canyon; or you can head to one of the many state parks, such as Golden Gate Park, or Mueller State Park.

I have camped in many different locations during my years living in Colorado, and each one of them has their own special charm, but one of the places I enjoy camping at is Mueller State Park outside of Divide, Colorado. It is easy to find. You just take Highway 24 out of Colorado Springs until you reach Divide and then you take a left on Highway 67 for six miles and it will be on your right hand side. I do recommend looking ahead and reserving a campsite before you go especially during the summer. I would recommend doing this with any place you camp at during the summer. We had made reservations way back in February, and they were already filling up at that time.

The campsites are very comfortable there and far enough away from other campsite so it does not feel like you are camping on to of another person. There are plenty of site that accommodate campers, but most of the people that we saw there were just tenting it. The weather was perfect for this as well. Mueller State Park sits over 9,000 feet above sea level so it will always be a little cooler there than Colorado Springs or Denver. It is the perfect way to escape the heat of the summer. Each site comes with a table, and a grill over a fire pit, and there is a bathroom facility that is central to the campgrounds that offers laundry options, and showers. Even though you find yourself camping, the comforts of home are within walking distance, and you will never feel like you are really roughing it.

The nicest thing about camping here is that you are close to many fun things to do. There is a wolf sanctuary close by, as well as a mine that you can explore. There are many places where you can go fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding and of course, hiking.

There are many trails around the park that offer spectacular views, but you do not even need to leave the park to find a place where you can enjoy a nice hike. As soon as you enter the park, the ranger will give you a map to all of the trails that the park has to offer. Some are easier than others, but all of them will take you to an exciting place in the park.

The one that I took while I was out there led me to Cheesman Ranch, an old settlement on the valley floor of this part of Colorado. There were a series of ranch style homes that were left behind when the first people from the east came out to this part of Colorado and decided that they would try their hand at ranching, and the state has done a great job of maintaining the outside of these buildings. The preservation of history makes it feel as if you were a part of this household when you make it to this part of the trail. It is the small things that you notice such as the metal siding used as the roof and the new paint job that makes you know that somebody cares about making sure that this is here for anybody that decides to take this hike.

The insides of the building were a little different, but it is one small step at a time, and it is the small ranch house on the plain surrounded by mountains that make this hike worth it, but that can be said for any hike that is taken in Colorado. There is always some reward at the end of the hike such as a water fall or the beautiful view of the mountains. There are also little treasures along the way as well, whether that is people you meet along the way or being able to see the wildlife, a hike in the mountains is always an adventure.

I have camped all of the world, but there is something about being able to do it in Colorado, and I am glad that I got to experience it while I was out here this summer.

Quandary Peak – Around the World Day 23

Though the world may not know much about it except for the place you go to for skiing, Colorado, does have a tourist season during the summer. The mountains are still a fun place to go to, and there are many things to do in the small towns there. One of the things that many people try to check off of their lists is to summit one of the 58 14ers that the state boasts about. A 14er, is a mountain peak that reaches over 14,000 feet above sea level. It is way above timberline, and the air gets pretty thin up there, so it is quite an accomplishment to make it up one of these mountains, and it is even a bigger challenge if you can do it when you come from sea level before you do it because there is always the danger of altitude sickness that can make the hike a challenge to get over. I wanted to add to the challenge so I decided to take on one of these peaks a day after I arrived from Europe, so I was living in a different time zone and my mind was trying to get over jet lag when I tried this.

It is important to take on one of these peaks early in the morning because Colorado has a tendency to afternoon thunderstorms, and you don’t want to be up on top of a peak without any cover where lightning has a shorter distance to strike the tallest object, you. It also gets pretty crowded on some of the peaks during the day because of the tourists try to tie this into their vacation. Quandary Peak, the mountain I took on, is one of the busier ones. It is only a few miles outside of the popular town of Breckenridge, and it is one of the easier mountains to summit, so this is the one that many people take on. I had gotten there at 5:45 in the morning and it was already packed with people. Even though some people might complain about these crowds, it didn’t bother me much because I had just experienced some of the crowds in Europe and they were nothing like the one I had on this day.

The cool thing about the hike is you can see the summit most of the way up. It is not like some of the other peaks where the top hides behind false summits, disappointing you sometimes when you thought you had made it to the top but in reality you still had a ways to go. It also has a pretty well maintained all the way up to the top as opposed to other mountains where the trail disappears to a field of rocks that can add to the challenge because they are not always secured and you might have to dodge a rock rolling down the hill from someone up above you from time to time.

It is also still had small snow fields near the top even though it was the middle of July. I have been told that these snow fields are small this year because it has been a dry year for Colorado, but it was fun to see snow during this time of the year. I have attempted this mountain at a different time of the year, May, and this spot was covered in snow, and I couldn’t summit because I got caught in the middle of a blizzard when I made it to this point in the hike. But this time, the weather was perfect, and I even wished I had worn shorts because I was getting a little hot when I made it to this point of the hike.

The best part of the hike was when I got to the top. I was able to stand on the edge of a precipice and look out over the Rocky Mountains and could even point out the two other 14ers that I had summited the summer before. I got to get to know my hiking partners a little better, had wonderful conversations with other hikers taking on the challenge from other parts of the world, and earned a sense of accomplishment on a day that I would usually have spent trying to figure out a way to get over jet lag.

It is a great way to spend a day in Colorado, and it is one of the things that made this part of my trip around the world great. It is funny that I had to move away before I attempted to reach the top of these mountains, but it is the way of the world. We don’t really appreciate the things we have in the places we live until we no longer have them at our disposal. That is one of the things that this trip is teaching me. Appreciate everything that I can while I am there to appreciate it.